A lowly mouse hormone holds hope for the country's soaring number of diabetics, a new study finds. It seems that betatrophin can grow new insulin-making beta cells in the pancreas; these are the same cells that are either dead (Type 1) or ineffective (Type 2) in diabetics, reports USA Today. "This is really an amazing discovery," said one expert, noting "this opens a whole new pathway to treating diabetes."
Researchers discovered betatrophin by chance, while studying an insulin-blocking compound. The mice they were using responded to the compound by upping production of betatrophin, causing more insulin-producing cells to grow. As usual, scientists caution that they are still a long way away from turning this discovery into a treatment—which would likely be a weekly or monthly hormone shot that would replace the daily regimen of insulin injections.